A ruling by a U.S. District Judge on Thursday allowed Jennifer Eckhart’s lawsuit against Ed Henry and Fox News to proceed.
Eckhart was an associate producer at the television network and alleged that she was a victim of continuous sexual harassment by Henry, who allegedly sent her numerous lewd messages, coerced her into a sexual relationship, and violently raped her in a hotel room.
She also sued Fox News for responsibility for the sexual misconduct by Henry, and the judge found enough credence in her complaints that he also allowed the suit against the network to proceed.
According to the 52-page report, much of Eckhart’s alleged abuse fell outside the statute of limitations.
However, his alleged actions from 2018 onwards were enough for her to claim under New York human rights law. The judge, however, dismissed a second claim for sex trafficking and did not allow it to proceed.
The Pronouncement By Judge Ronnie Abrams
U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams was the judge for the case and stated that Eckhart could attempt to show that Henry did engage in “sex trafficking” and “victim shaming” when he posted, what he claimed, were nude photos of Eckhart in the court docket.
He also allowed Eckhart to proceed to try to prove that Fox News was aware or should have been aware of Henry’s actions and behavior with the exception of the photos and sex trafficking claims.
In permitting the claim of a hostile workspace, Abrams highlighted allegations that Henry’s “serial harasser” status was an “open secret” in the network.
He also alleged that Fox received prior complaints about his behavior and had the law firm of Paul, Weiss previously conduct a sexual harassment investigation in the network, which should have alerted them of Henry’s behavior.
He then permitted Eckhart to have an additional claim for retaliation against Fox for termination of her employment and stated that she may also pursue limited claims against Henry alone.
Statements By Henry, Eckhart, And Fox News
According to Henry in a court filing, Eckhart “willingly and enthusiastically” engaged in a “completely consensual” relationship.
Catherine Foti, Henry’s lawyer, stated that the decision to allow Eckhart’s claims undermined the “legitimate efforts to defend himself” that her client had made and that he was confident the claims would prove “baseless.”
A spokesperson for Fox News said that the network would defend itself properly against the “baseless claims” Eckhart made against them, stating that the network took her harassment allegation very seriously as it does for all others and that they indeed fired Henry in July 2020.
This came after Eckhart came forward with her accusations and a thorough independent investigation was carried out.
In a statement made by Eckhart in the court filing, Eckhart said Fox News fired her in June 2020 after she made a complaint about the hostile work environment.
Her legal rep, Michael Willemin, said that she is looking forward to a jury trial where all her client’s claims would be proven true.
History Of Sexual Misconduct Lawsuits In Fox News
The late Roger Ailes was the chairman and CEO of Fox News and was forced to leave his position in 2016 when sexual harassment charges were brought against him by former anchor Gretchen Carlson.
Carlson claimed that Ailes made several unwanted sexual advances when she made complaints about the treatment of female employees.
During arbitrary proceedings on her claims, several other allegations were brought by other staff leading Fox News and Ailes to make a separation plan and relieve him of his position at the network.
Bill O’Reilly was popularly known in the world as the top-rated host at Fox News, at least until his long history of sexual harassment came to light.
He allegedly had a history of propositioning guests and producers for sex, having nonconsensual sexual relationships, and sending sexually explicit materials to several women.
He and Fox News tried their best to keep the allegations from the public, by making private legal settlements with at least six women that totaled an estimated $45 million, however, they were not successful and O’Reilly was eventually forced out of his job.